The German armies launched a fresh assault in the Arras area which up to now had held firm. It did again, thanks to a combination of clear weather and the ability of the RFC to finally put in place the defensive plans it had devised.
The squadrons that had flown south to assist now returned to the First Army area to assist with ground attack and artillery calling the main missions.
Once again the RFC suffered multiple casualties across many squadrons. 43 Squadron, operating in the Arras to Albert area were in the thick of the action that morning, claiming six enemy aircraft and two balloons but also suffering six casualties.
2nd Lieutenant Cecil Frederick King claimed an Albatross shot down and crashed in his Sopwith Camel (D1777) before being wounded and forced to return home.
Lieutenant Robert Johnstone Owen claimed one Albatross and a balloon in his Sopwith Camel (C8259) but was the shot down and taken prisoner by Leunant Rudolph Heins from Jasta 56.
Heins then also claimed Lieutenant Walter James Prier in Sopwith Camel D6404. Prier also claimed an enemy shot down, though he was taken prisoner.
Captain John Lightfoot Trollope MC claimed 2 enemy aircraft and a balloon before being shot down in his Sopwith Camel (C8270) by Leutnant Victor von Rautter from Jasta 4. He crashed behind enemy lines and sustained a very serious wound to his left arm that required amputation of his hand. He was taken prisoner, and later had his arm amputated after his repatriation. On the 24th of March Trollope had claimed seven enemy aircraft shot down.
2nd Lieutenant Harold Towns Adams was seen to force down an Albatross in Sopwith Camel (C8267) before being shot down and killed by Leutnant Fritz Rumey of Jasta 5.
Finally, 2nd Lieutenant Charles Roland Maasdorp was shot down and killed by Leutnant Ernst Udet from Jasta 11. Udet later wrote about the combat (though Maasdorp was in fact South African):
It was because of Richthofen’s prejudice for flamers that I rather hated to report my 22nd victory. Mine had been a clear-cut win, and all that; still, my man did not come down in flames. As to the fight, you may judge for yourself.
My opponent was an Australian, Lieut. C. R. Maasdorp of Squadron 47 R.F.C., and the date was sometime in March, 1918. The action took place in the morning above a road leading from Albert to Raume. Maasdorp was flying a Sopwith Camel and I had my Fokker DR-1 (149-17). The fight started at an altitude of 1600 feet.
Both of us apparently decided to attack at the same time, but I managed to get slightly the better position and went at a him from a downward curve which forced him gradually lower. At 600 feet, we both a leveled out and went at each other full speed ahead, with both of our guns spitting bullets. Each of us held to our course. I knew one of us was going to get it. Down below I could see Courcelette and Thiepval.
Several shots tore through the wings of my machine and I could hear others singing through the air around me.
Shooting head-on at a plane is tricky business. The thing is to get the other man to waver to one side or the other and then you can get him. Maasdorp must have known that. I could tell that he was an experienced flier. He kept right on coming.
Flying is largely a matter of nerve. The man who can stick it out the longest wins. This scrap was really a duel of nerves. In the end I won; Maasdorp shifted his course ever so slightly. In the same instant I got him. His Camel turned completely over and with her engines still roaring in defiance, dove squarely into the middle of a big shell crater.
I descended several minutes later and went up to inspect the crash. I found that one of my bullets had gone cleanly through his head, killing him instantly. That’s why his machine somersaulted so suddenly. There was a dead man at the controls.